Guatemala Adoption
By on April 30th, 2011

The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) conducted an investigation by team of professional experts who analyzed for 18 months over 3,342 notarial notices from the records of the Attorney General’s Office (PGN) related to adoption processes: 1,412 issued by the PGN and the National Council on Adoptions (CNA); 879 requests and protection measure processes from the Youth and Children Courts; and 153 declarations of adoptability issued by the Courts of Children and Adolescents. Furthermore, more than 50 criminal investigations conducted by the Public Ministry (MP) were analyzed in relation to the crime of trafficking in persons for illegal adoption.

From the analysis of the data gathered, the reports states that over 60% of the processes for adoption contained abnormalities such as theft and illegal purchase/sale of children, threats and deception to biological mothers, and forgery of documents to carry out “adoption processes” both before and after the entry into force of the Adoption Law (31 December 2007).  In many cases there are multiple and clear indications that the illegal procedures were promoted by transnational organized crime who acted along with the participation or acquiescence of state officials. Currently, the Public Ministry investigates more than 325 adoption processes which present serious irregularities.

In its report, the CICIG determined themodus operandi of transnational organized crime networks involved in trafficking of children through illegal adoptions. Since that report, the CICIG determined that an international adoption in Guatemala, rather than representing a way of procuring a family to an unprotected child, often has become a mechanism for delivering children to those who request and pay, turning such institution into a lucrative form of human trafficking which is an offense under the Penal Code in Guatemala.

The CICIG report stated that only 10% of Guatemalan children who were placed for adoption between 2007 and 2010 were in an orphaned or abandoned situation.  They identified cases in which the representatives and/or facilitators of international adoption agencies in Guatemala were aware of the illicit origin of the children placed for adoption and yet continued illegal processes through altered DNA tests, deception and threats to biological mothers, and the use of forged documents.

CICIG states that they support that international adoptions are an option of life for those children who need it. However, given that the pending processes have serious irregularities, CICIG supports the position of PGN, CNA and MP – competent institutions on the issue – and in particular promotes that each adoption process approved individually, as a minimum, should establish the following:  (1) lawful origin of the child; (2) ratification of the biological mother´s consent; (3) determination of paternity through DNA testing; and (4) veracity of the identity of the child and the mother.

CICIG reiterated its firm commitment to continue supporting the Guatemalan institutions, including the Attorney General’s Office, the National Council on Adoptions and the Public Ministry, in its fight to eradicate illegal adoptions and to combat impunity.

Notice from the Department of State: Special Advisor for Children’s Issues, Ambassador Susan Jacobs, visited Guatemala this past week April 2011, for meetings on intercountry adoption. She will meet with government officials and nongovernmental adoption stakeholders to discuss the status of U.S. citizen adoption cases that have been pending since the suspension of new adoptions by Guatemala in 2007. She will also discuss Guatemala’s efforts to implement new intercountry adoption safeguards that would provide a path toward future adoption processing.

Guatemala is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption ( Hague Adoption Convention). The U.S. Government believes Guatemala has had insufficient time to implement reform legislation that would create a Convention-compliant adoption process, and as a result, Guatemala cannot meet its Convention obligations. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is not processing I-800A petitions because the Department of State is unable to verify, as required by Section 301(a) of the Intercountry Adoption Act (IAA), that the requirements of the Hague Adoption Convention have been met in cases from Guatemala.

The Guatemalan National Council on Adoption (CNA) announced in September 2008 that CNA will not accept any new adoption cases at this time. The halt is to enable CNA to work on establishing guidelines to use in accrediting adoption agencies and to focus on completing transition cases. More information about CNA’s decision may be found on its website,




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